Paradise, the third record from Pop. 1280, doesn't celebrate the idea of utopia as much as it examines the concept's implausibility. The Brooklyn industrial punks venture far beyond the conventional realms of those terms, splicing squalid synthesizers and jackboot drum machines onto the same sort of grating squall it sharpened for 2013's The Imps of Perversion. Pop. 1280 evokes absurdist dread.
Lyrical gloom mirrors the totemic industrial drones, as vocalist Chris Bug unloads philippics against the ills of modern technology and the perceived dreams of our collective iPhone world. "Pain and pleasure won't last forever," he seethes during "Chromidia," implying that neither will those who feel them.
Winter storms that slammed into New York forced Pop. 1280 to reschedule the release show for Paradise, like a confirmation of the doomsday tidings it brings. But not long after the band at last hit the stage, Bug and multi-instrumentalist Ivan Lip spoke about the record's roots in public and personal darkness.
IVAN LIP: For us, it's also very personal.
CB: If you look at the lyrics, more of the lyrics are about personal failures or observations—things we see on a daily basis. This isn't a big diatribe about mass shootings or iPhones or whatever. If there's something we're critiquing, then chances are it's something we're noticing in ourselves as much as the people we're critiquing.
CB: I think most intelligent people think the same way, but it doesn't seem like a topic people are hung up on. It's impossible to look at the moon landing and not think, "What the fuck are we doing?"
CB: Well, now that you mention it...
CB: And I think about that in art, too, a lot: "Does what we're doing matter?" And, in general, I think we approach our music as art, and that makes me feel not as insignificant.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Abandoning Eden"